A historic Jericho institution dating back to the 1600s could face an uncertain future after its sale to a local shopping center owner.
The Milleridge Inn, a restaurant and banquet hall with an array of small shops, was sold last week to New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty, a national shopping center owner and owner of Jericho Commons, a cluster of stores adjacent to the Milleridge Inn property.
Kimco representatives said the Inn’s previous owners will continue to operate it.
“This acquisition protects our Jericho Commons center from a third party coming in and possibly compromising this investment,” said David Bujnicki, vice-president of investor relations and communications for Kimco, adding that more details, including the purchase price, will be released on July 28. “Kimco has leased the Milleridge Inn building back to its current owners who will continue to operate it.”
The Milleridge Inn has been operated by the Murphy family for more than 50 years and Bruce Davis, the Inn’s director of operations, said the sale does not affect operations at all.
“It is currently business as usual,” said Davis, who said he couldn’t discuss the reason for the sale. “There is no change in our operations and we are capable of honoring all of our event obligations.”
Though the buyers and former owners/current operators say the Inn will remain as is, some local residents are preparing themselves for the possibility that the structure once used as an inn during colonial times will meet its fate with a bulldozer.
Donald Lefemma, a Jericho resident, said the building should have been given landmark status years ago in order to protect it from development of any kind.
“This building is priceless,” he said. “The governmental authorities in Jericho and in Nassau need to take the necessary steps to protect this beautiful place. This place dates back to pre-Revolutionary War times. It needs to be protected so that future generations can appreciate it.”
Lefemma and other residents said they want to believe the owners will maintain the property and uphold its historic significance, but recent events at the Maine Maid Inn, also in Jericho, are leading them to suspect otherwise.
Todd Berkun, whose Facebook page “Long Island and NYC Places That Are No More” documents the old vestiges of all manner of local history, said when standards at Maine Maid dropped people stopped coming back.
“Then all you have is a decaying building where the opportunistic real estate developers and drug store executives see a potential new venue,” he said. “We still don’t know what Maine Maid is being turned into, why haven’t we been told? The developments at the Maine Maid are a warning for what could happen at Milleridge.”
The fear, Berkun said, is that the history of Milleridge Inn will give way to the types of development that are becoming all too familiar on the Long Island landscape.
“There are too few Milleridge Inns and far too many multiplexes and chain stores,” he said. “We all can remember so many of the places from our past that we have lost. It is a shame that we have lost so much of our heritage as the island has changed.”
Berkun said the best way to fight against the potential loss of the Milleridge Inn is to be as vocal as possible.
“Real estate is so valuable that it is hard for large old plot owners to resist the temptation to cash in by getting their zoning restrictions reduced so they can break the old properties up into condos and the like,” he said. “The town and the public have to be as vigilant possible to try to preserve the places of our past that we do have left.”